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“This is how Safari should be” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Sand River Masai Mara

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Sand River Masai Mara
Certificate of Excellence
Glasgow, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“This is how Safari should be”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 November 2013

In all my years of travelling and having stayed in many quality hotels, I’ve never felt the need to write a Trip Advisor review, until now that is.
On behalf of my wife and I, I’d like to thank all the staff at Elewana’s Sand River Camp for making our stay just perfect. We stayed for four days/three nights at the camp in November as part of our Honeymoon. The level and quality of service left me feeling compelled to write a review. For anyone considering a safari trip, rest assured look no further than this place.
From the moment we touched down at the airstrip in the Masai Mara we were greeted by the camps Guide and Driver (Newton and Muregi) with smiles, a cold refreshing face towel, cold drinks and light snacks, just perfect after a long journey from Scotland! This welcome set the standard for the rest of the stay. On arrival at the camp, again another warm and sincere greeting from Tim and the Team, then offered a cool drink as we went through a very efficient check-in thanks to Brian at reception.
For anyone concerned at the thought of sleeping in a tent, rest assured the accommodation is nothing but luxury. The tents are a great size, very tastefully decorated and every possible need catered for, there was even hot water bottles in the drawer if required! And as for the bed, well, yet again quality on a LARGE scale. Waking up to the sound of the animals in the bush is much more pleasant than an alarm clock! We never thought we would use it, but the free-standing bath was amazing, a great way to unwind after a day out in the jeep and experiencing the ‘African Massage’ from the bush trails first hand.
While on the subject of game drives, the experience we had was nothing short of amazing, far better than we had hoped for! The knowledge, experience and professionalism that Newton and Muregi possess, meant that we were able to see not just ‘The Big Five’ that everyone goes on about, but we witnessed a young male lion moments after capturing a zebra, a leopard stalking and then killing a wildebeest, another lion chasing the pack of zebra/wildebeest and a lioness with four tiny cubs. I have to disagree with one of the previous reviews about the effectiveness of having a Guide AND Driver as opposed to a single being apparently more focussed. I believe that one of the benefits of staying at Elewana’s Sand River Camp was that while out on the game drives we had both a Guide and Driver looking out for and spotting animals, this was unique compared to ALL the other jeeps from surrounding lodges/camps/hotels we passed while out in the bush, they simply had one driver which meant there would be a reduced chance of spotting game simply because it was one less pair of skilled eyes game spotting (let’s face it driving those trails is a challenge in itself never mind trying to spot animals at the same time!). Also, I’d have to disagree with the review about the standard of vehicle used for the drive, at least on our visit in early November it was perfect, again, far better than most others we seen out in the bush, the Toyota Land Cruiser allowed for viewing/taking photos either out of the side windows or to stand and take in the views/photos out the top of the roof (which had a canopy for protection from the sun/rain). As someone that is passionate about their photography, I couldn’t fault the jeep (my tip use a beanbag or monopod if using a larger lens).
Both my wife and I were blown away at the quality of food produced and the service whilst at the camp. The standard was set during our first meal; fillet steak for lunch – amazing! There was a choice of three starters, three mains and three deserts each afternoon and evening. Plus the breakfast choices each day set you up for the early morning game drive. I think there were about twelve different choices, ranging from continental to a full-cooked breakfast. My personal favourite was the French toast with caramelised apples. Thank you again to Anthony our Chef during our stay, who on a couple of occasions came to talk to use and check we were enjoying the food, a nice touch. And a big thank you to Elias our Waiter for each meal; without doubt one of the finest and most attentive Waiters we’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Sadly his snooker skills don’t match up to his professional skills, I think I’m currently winning 4 games to 2.....
We were truly sad to leave on our last morning and we would like to thank everyone at the Camp for making our first (and hopefully not the last) trip the Kenya such a special one. With the levels of service and quality of accommodation, this place, all be it still relatively new, is definitely somewhat a hidden gem but this won’t last for long and the Camp will only go from strength to strength.
Asante sana!

  • Stayed November 2013, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Ross and Nicola G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
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Belper
Level Contributor
19 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 November 2013

The lodging is excellent, the hut is the best we've ever stayed in, so well appointed and with its own private balcony. Food is superb, but they do have a tendency to think that you need to eat in a different location for every meal; asking first would be a good idea as not all are appropriate. We never actually ate in the dining room!
The viewing vehicles let this site down, enclosed and with poor viewing. They did manage to get a better vehicle for us following our complaint and we understand improved vehicles are being delivered in a couple of months, but they are not up to the high standard of Tortilis camp. We visited for the game viewing.
We visited out of peak season but were still able to view many animals and big cats. We had a guide and a driver and they did have a tendency to use their mobile phones and chat to each other. A single guide/driver is more focussed!

  • Stayed November 2013, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank WinebaPark
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Newton, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
22 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 October 2013

I think I’m forever spoiled having had my first Safari experience the Elewana Collection’s Sand River Masai Mara.

From the moment we arrived, after being offered a cold towel and glasses of juice, we were quickly escorted to our tents -- with our bags arriving right behind us. After I picked my jaw up off of the ground at the mere fact my spacious room was called a “tent,” I cleaned up, changed, and headed to the lounge.

The general manager, Tim, greeted us, and he and the rest of his staff couldn’t have been more attentive to our every need. We were shown the lounge, game room, pool, and given an overview of the dozen plus tents - each having an indoor bath, outdoor shower, couch, comfortable bed and outdoor seating area.

We were served lunch by the Sand River - with a beautiful table set up outside and had our choice of wine, appetizer, lunch, and dessert. Our server was friendly, attentive and left nothing to chance. After a delicious salad, steak filet and fruit dessert, we were on our way.

After our lunch, we were taken on a game drive. Our drivers were familiar with the area, were friendly, knowledgeable and knew how to keep us entertained and educated throughout the experience. We saw dozens of amazing sights and arrived back with a full appetite.

We had lunch inside their dining area, and were again treated to a great three course meal. Offerings ranged from steak, pork and duck, to fish, vegetarian options and Indian/Thai-inspired plates. We each tried a little of something before bed, and were escorted back to our (turned-down) tents, where the guides zipped us in, wished us good night and we drifted off to sleep to the sounds of the Masai Mara.

The next morning, we woke up early to a delicious breakfast and a full-day game drive. Midday, our guides unpacked a lunch, table, and chairs and served an amazing lunch in the middle of the Masai Mara (under a nice shady tree, I might add). And after a day of driving, we again had a great 3-course meal and went to bed before our final morning drive.

We woke up early (6 AM!) for a morning drive on our final morning, and after another exciting journey, were pleasantly surprised to see a breakfast set up overlooking one of the more scenic landscapes I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying a meal in front of!

We ate our breakfast, drove home and packed our things.

On our way out (as we were the crazy people who decided to drive the 36+ miles of unpaved road instead of flying to the private airport), we were offered packed lunches and were seen off by the staff.

I can’t thank the staff enough for providing a truly first-rate experience -- comfort like I never expected, hospitality at its finest.

While I can’t speak to the price (see disclosure above), I can speak to the experience -- and if you’re looking to Safari in ultimate style and comfort, look no further than the Elewana Collection’s Sand River Masai Mara.

Tips:

Make sure to enjoy the outdoor shower (when it’s light out).

There are a family of elephants nearby (some of whom try to sneak drinks out of the pool!); I’m sure you’ll get a photo op if you have your camera ready!

Be prepared to be escorted at night -- there are walkie talkies that you can use to have someone come by your room to take you to places safely after the lights go out.

If you’re driving, get a car with high clearance! If you’re flying to the private airport, be prepared for additional expense.

You shouldn’t be here for the WiFi, but it’s fairly unreliable and you should expect to only be able to check emails intermittently and do some small tasks from time to time. I’d suggest you leave your work at the office (if you can) and leave the gadgets turned off!

Shouldn’t be a surprise -- but there’s no TV. Go for a walk! I promise, it’s way better.

Don’t forget the glass of sherry and cookies before bed! A fine nightcap!


[Disclosure: I was joining my friend, who was offered a complimentary stay as he took photos and videos for the property for part of his travel column.]

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Tim F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Sand River Masai Mara

Property: Sand River Masai Mara
Address: Masai Mara, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Region: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Masai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #45 of 140 Speciality Lodging in Masai Mara National Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:5 star — Sand River Masai Mara 5*
Number of rooms: 16
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Opened on July 1st 2013, the Elewana Collection is delighted to announce the introduction of its first bush camp in Kenya – Sand River Masai Mara.Located on the banks of a river from which it has taken its name, Sand River Masai Mara is located within the Masai Mara National Reserve, close to the Tanzanian border.Situated on a secluded and picturesque site, Sand River Masai Mara replicates the heyday of exclusive permanent tented camps of the late 1920’s. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sand River Masai Mara Kenya/Masai Mara National Reserve

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